Starved of actual news the Lobby’s finest have grabbed the Big Ben bong story for all they are worth, creating headlines out of the soon to be silenced chimes.
No-Bell prizes for Literature are due to the following;
David Wooding for The Sun on Sunday got a sex angle: BONGS BAN BINS BERC BONKS, “House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s love life could be silenced like Big Ben because his wife finds bongs ‘incredibly sexy’. Sally Bercow, 47, finds the bongs a ‘turn-on’ and pals fear that four years without the chimes could be a passion-killer for the Commons’ couple.”
John Stevens in the Daily Mail got the Brexit angle with Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg telling him: “I think Big Ben ought to be kept striking as much as possible during the repairs as long as it doesn’t deafen the work force. It would be symbolically uplifting for it to sound out our departure from the EU as a literally ringing endorsement of democracy.”
Laura Hughes in The Telegraph got a business angle with a Heritage Minister saying “Big Ben should continue to bong for tourists at least once a week”.
Richard Littlejohn blamed it all on “elf and safety” and says Britain would not have defeated the Nazis with this attitude.
Guido thinks it was The Telegraph’s Chris Hope who created a whole new line of stories with “‘Silence of the Bongs’ Row Grows, over Switching off of Big Ben’s historic ‘democracy lamp’ above Parliament”, this apparently is because for first time in over 70 years the “Ayrton Light at the top of the Elizabeth Tower which houses Big Ben will be switched off for months while maintenance work is carried out.. The last time it failed to shine was when German bombers were strafing London during the Second World War.” In decades of being around parliament Guido had never heard of the Ayrton Light or been aware of its important constitutional role.
All credit to Stephen Pound for coming up with the wheeze of organising a high noon gathering of around 20 MPs (he claims), to listen to the last chimes – for an indeterminate period – “with heads bowed but hope in our hearts”. Asked whether he was having a laugh, Pound told the Press Association: “No, of course I’m not, of course we’re going to be there – a group of like-minded traditionalists.”
Conor Burns – the anti-Stephen Pound – retorted “There has been the most enormous amount of nonsense talked about this. Colleagues saying the House of Commons Commission is achieving something that even the Luftwaffe couldn’t achieve, stopping Big Ben. Big Ben was silenced for maintenance in 2007, it was refurbished between ’83 and ’85, it blew up in 1976 and was offline for a little while. All I would say about it is I look forward to getting back to September and back down to business and I think when you see the footage of our colleagues who gather at the foot of Big Ben you will not see too many colleagues who have careers ahead of them.”